In Tuscany, the cultivation of vines for wine and olive trees for olive oil have always been joined together. In many images depicting our region, this synergy between cultivation stands out, making this part of Italy unique all over the world. Although it is relatively easy to immerse yourself in the hilly landscape surrounded by vineyards and olive trees, it remains more difficult to taste the substance and intensity of a product of excellence of these lands: extra virgin olive oil.
In fact, in addition to wine, Casa Lucii also produces one of the best extra virgin olive oils in Tuscany, which is organic, certified Tuscan, and rigorously cold extracted. An oil that makes its freshness and intensity its salient features. At first sight, it may seem strange to find in a fatty substance such as oil these distinctive elements, but once tasted it is clear how harmoniously this product combines these characteristics and how well it expresses its organoleptic qualities.
The production process starts with the producers' idea of producing excellent oil. This idea is then transformed into the precise agronomic actions necessary to achieve the result such as the varieties, the planting of the sixth, the soil, the best exposure, the type of pruning, and above all the best method and period of harvesting. Since we are looking for freshness and low acidity (value indicating the level of oxidation of the product), the harvest period is very early and compressed, unlike our grandparents for whom it was possible to harvest the olives at the end of the year. Usually, the crucial period falls between the end of October and the beginning of November when the olives are ripe but extraordinarily young and rich in water, and the air temperature drops thanks to the first cold winds from the north.
The olives are harvested by hand and taken to press the same day in trusted oil mills inserted and authorized in the organic circuit.
At this point, the olives are weighed, washed and pressed. After pressing the olives begin the phase of "gramolatura", a period of rest that allows the paste to homogenize to prepare for subsequent centrifugation. During this phase, it is necessary to keep the dough at a medium-low temperature in closed tanks to avoid oxidative phenomena. The paste is then separated by centrifugation; the pressing technique has been completely abandoned because it was often the cause of contamination between batches of different olives. The oil is then separated from the remaining parts of the paste: a liquid portion called vegetation water and a solid part called pomace which is given to industries that can obtain other oil extracted with solvents. The percentage of oil extracted from the olives harvested is meager but is in its maximum concentration. Usually, on average per 100 kg of olives, it is possible to obtain only about 10-12 liters of oil. For this reason, oil is such an expensive and precious food. Our grandparents tell us that if you accidentally spilled oil on the ground, you had to expect years of trouble.
What makes this product so special
It is easy to understand how only a very small part of the extra virgin olive oil on the market follows such an integral and virtuous production process and how the quantities are so small that it is necessary to identify where it comes from unequivocally. Legislation in the case of oil is perhaps even more complicated than that of wine, and the consumer often cannot easily guess what the real differences between the various types of olive oil are. Technically, the extra virgin diction indicates the maximum level of acidity of the product, but this parameter is completely insufficient if not accompanied by the extraction methods and certification of origin. In particular, the extra virgin olive oil we produce is certified PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) Tuscany, which means that the entire production process is defined and controlled by a control body. By typing the number on the neck of the bottle on the website https://www.oliotoscanoigp.it/, it is possible to trace the name of the producer, the place where the olives were pressed and the related certifications. Everything is traced to give maximum quality protection to the final consumer who may be very far from the place of production and not know how to recognize very generic oil labels (Mediterranean or Italian oil) or fraudulent labels (oils with ambiguous origin or certification).
Tips to make the most of it
At the end of the process, the product that is obtained repays all the effort. To think that it is only a condiment is, to say the least reductive. It is more a concentrate of aromatic and health substances thanks to the presence of antioxidant polyphenols, vitamin E, and unsaturated fatty acids. These characteristics make it a fundamental part of the Mediterranean diet known all over the world for its perfect ratio and high-quality nutrients. We are also often asked if it can be used for cooking and frying. We think that it is certainly possible but not convenient because all its best features are lost. The freshness and concentration of this product are enhanced 100% raw, in small doses, tasteless in a superb way. In Tuscany bread with oil and "pinzimonio" are particularly famous: fresh vegetables from the garden soaked in oil.